Activists protest construction of SGR through Nairobi park


Activists protest construction of SGR through Nairobi park

More than 100 protesters staged a peaceful demonstration dubbed #OccupyLang’ataRoad to protest a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) decision to allow construction of the Standard Gauge Railway through the Nairobi National Park.

Led by team leader, Kahindi Lekalhaile, the protesters want the government to keep off the park. The protesters marched all the way to KWS headquarters demanding for the resignation of current KWS Chairman, Dr. Richard Leakey.

“Nairobi National Park is the only park in the world inside a capital city. It is exactly what brings people from all over the world. Constructing the railway through it is going to disturb animals and increase human wildlife conflicts and the noise can never be mitigated,” said Kahindi.

Early this week, a committee of board members consisting of both the Kenya Railways Corporation and the Kenya Wildlife Service approved the railway line route through the park.

KWS Chairman, Dr. Richard Leakey, remains categorical that the discussions were solid and that the project will not disrupt wildlife.

“The whole process so far is being handled with great transparency. We will allow the survey to go forward and if it is positive, if the assessment is positive, tutasonga mbele [we shall move forward]. We are not dirtying the park, now we do have approvals from government,” noted Dr Leakey.

The proposed design shows that the SGR line will cross over the park using a single line bridge spanning a total of six kilometers.  The bridge pillar will be dug deep to reduce ground vibrations, and will have noise deflectors to reduce noise pollution.

But this appears to have fallen on deaf ears as the protesters say they would listen to none of it. “This is the worst thing that can happen to any protected area in Kenya,” insisted Kahindi.

The protesters, who were carrying placards denoting messages of wildlife protection and environment conservation served Dr. Leaky with a petition which was received by KWS Director General, Kitili Mbathi.

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Story By Dennis Otieno
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